Read the article about this that appeared on the front page of the Boston Globe! . . . . . Arlington, March 26, 2015―The Children’s Room announces today that Patriots Owner Robert Kraft has pledged $100,000 to fund an expansion of the organization’s programming for teens who have experienced the death of a close family member. “Teenagers who have lost a parent or sibling carry a burden of sorrow and anxiety that can last well into adulthood. These young people are at a greater risk of turning to substances and other unhealthy behavior to cope with their grief,” said The Children’s Room Executive Director Donna Smith Sharff. “Mr. Kraft’s transformative gift will allow us to expand our reach with this vulnerable and underserved population.” In addition to peer support groups at its center in Arlington, The Children’s Room has offered community-based groups at schools in Arlington, Lexington, Dorchester, and Needham, and at Boys and Girls Clubs in Chelsea and Dorchester. Kraft’s gift will fund events throughout the year designed to appeal to teens who are unable to access The Children’s Room’s existing peer support groups due to time constraints or lack of transportation. These alternative teen service options also enable teens to feel a sense of control and ownership as they choose the type of service that is the best fit for them. Teen activities will range from expressive art classes to group outings at professional sporting events. Staff will be hired to support the additional activities and outreach to grieving teens. “Demand for services provided by The Children’s Room is great. I've come to learn that teens can be among the hardest to reach, and yet they may need services the most,” said Robert [...]
From The Children's Room's Executive Director March 5, 2015 Everywhere I go, someone is talking about their problems with the snow and severe weather; snow covered roofs, ice dams, water leaks, frozen pipes, and more. The Children’s Room has not been immune to these problems. Our 125-year-old Victorian house on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Appleton St. had each of these problems in the past several weeks. We have served grieving children and their families in our house for 11 years (and for 5 years before that in the basement of the First Baptist Church). The Arlington community has always been supportive and this season was no exception. Martin Conneely of Conneely Contracting, Harry Allen of Arlmont Fuel, and Michael and Betsy Pridham of ServPro of Cambridge/Belmont have been our heroes for many years. Marty has provided us with countless hours of talented services and has transformed the house into a welcoming environment capable of serving even more grieving children and families. Harry has kept us warm with donated fuel and an efficient heating system. This past month, Marty and Harry helped us avert disaster after an ice dam, frozen pipes, and a burst pipe. The wonderful team at Servpro of Cambridge/Belmont provides a deep clean of our house each year before family programs start and has made our house look like new after water damage and other maintenance emergencies. When we call each of these heroes, they are at the house in hours – sometimes in minutes! As a result, we do not have to cancel any family support activities because of house disasters. The Arlington Fire Department was on site this past week after a pipe burst in our basement. [...]
Supporting Children Survivors of Natural Disaster In March 2011, one of the most powerful earthquakes in recorded history hit the coast of Japan, triggering a tsunami with waves reaching over 100 feet high and traveling as far as 6 miles inland. Nearly 19,000 people died, with many more seriously injured or missing. Over 2,500 children had one or both of their parents die in the disaster, leading to a national effort to create support systems to help the grieving families left behind. Donna Smith Sharff with Yoshiji Hayashida, Director of the Rainbow House in Sendai At the invitation of Japan's Miyagi prefecture (the area hardest hit), Donna Smith Sharff, TCR's Executive Director, traveled to Japan in December to train mental health professionals and caregivers on how to support grieving children and teens. The disaster relief committee in Miyagi covered all expenses and made arrangements for Donna to present at several conferences across the affected region - including Miyagi's capital of Sendai and the Ishinomaki and Kessennuma prefectures - training a total of 230 professionals. During her travels, Donna also visited one of Japan's grief centers for families, the Rainbow House in Sendai. While touring the center, she asked Director Yoshiji Hayashida what children say their favorite thing is about coming to Rainbow House. He said what he hears the most is that children no longer feel alone. This powerful statement is the same thing that TCR volunteer facilitators and staff hear most often from the grieving children, teens, and families we serve. A group of medical and mental health professionals from Japan also had the opportunity to tour The Children's Room (pictured below). Professionals from Japan visiting TCR in October 2012 [...]
"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness." - Desmond Tutu All are warmly invited to join us at The Children's Room for our annual Community Candle Lighting of remembrance, comfort, and hope. Friday, January 23, 2015 6:30 - 8:30 pm The Children's Room Anyone is welcome, including children of all ages and anyone new to the TCR community. The evening will include affirming readings of hope and remembrance and a creative activity for both children and adults. We will close with refreshments and an opportunity for connection. Please RSVP if you are interested in attending, to help us plan for supplies and refreshments. Please also indicate number and ages of children attending. RSVPs and questions can be directed to Liz at email@example.com or 781-641-4741 ext. 225. This event will be held at The Children's Room, 1210 Massachusetts Avenue, in Arlington, MA. We are located on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Appleton St. Please use our front porch entrance on Appleton Street.
Angela's quilts and beautifully crafted knit and crochet items hold a special place in her heart. At the end of this month, she will participate in her first craft show and donate her profits to The Children's Room. Her granddaughter, Emily, and son, Brendan, came to TCR for peer support groups after Emily's mom, Amy, died when she was 5 years old. The Children's Room is a special place for Emily, and she was excited to show her grandmother around on a recent visit. Emily listens to the ringing bell Emily led the group from room to room, pausing to ring one of the bells several times and explain how her peer support groups would start with ringing the bell and then listening quietly until they couldn't hear the sound anymore. We stopped in the Little's Room, where Emily met with other kids her age who had also lost a parent or sibling. She then had to demonstrate activities in the High Energy Room, a room with padded walls and floor, a punching bag, and soft toys, where kids can be active and safely express their emotions. Emily with her grandmother and father in the Little's Room at TCR Emily led most of the tour, but her dad, Brendan, joined in with some special memories. He described the memory potlucks that take place in groups at two times during the year, where each family brings in the favorite food of the person who died. Emily's mom loved Thanksgiving, so for the memory potluck Brendan and Emily brought in an entire Thanksgiving dinner! They had so much food that it filled up two coolers. After touring the house, Angela showed us a [...]
Nancy Frumer Styron, J.D., Psy.D joined our staff in July 2013, becoming TCR's first Clinical Director. Nancy is a licensed psychologist with a background in pediatric psychology and a specialty in oncology. She worked at The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for over 20 years, seeing pediatric patients and their families as outpatients at Dana-Farber and inpatients at Children's Hospital who have been affected by diagnosis, treatment, loss, and death. She also served as the Training Director for graduate students in the fields of social work and psychology. Nancy started at The Children's Room as a volunteer facilitator for one of our adult groups. She now serves as a Coordinator for the Monday peer support group. Nancy oversees the Program team, supervises staff and students, provides professional trainings, and co-coordinates the Intern Training Program. Along with the Program team, she trains volunteers, provides information and referrals to callers, and develops workshops for presentation at conferences. As a member of the senior management team, Nancy also serves on the Strategic Planning Committee. The addition of a Clinical Director has also allowed TCR to expand and enrich our internship program for graduate and undergraduate students, educating the next generation of professionals entering the mental health field while increasing TCR's capacity to serve grieving children and teens in our center and a growing number of off-site locations. Nancy has developed a weekly seminar for the interns to provide a didactic component to their training. She and all staff will serve as instructors for this seminar. Donna Smith Sharff, TCR's Executive Director, was thrilled to welcome Nancy on staff, saying, "Nancy is an extraordinary addition to our already strong team. Her depth of knowledge and experience combined with her style are [...]
(left to right) Taylor Gray, Becca Meyers, Emily Ellis, Anna Cherubino, Brycelin Roux, Maria Keeler, Aishwarya Jha As another school year begins, The Children's Room is once again welcoming a new group of Program Interns. TCR's 2014-15 Internship Program includes our largest group ever, with 7 graduate and undergraduate students. Development of TCR's Internship Program The Children's Room has been hosting interns for just over a decade. TCR's Internship Program has experienced impressive growth and professional development over the past few years, thanks to the leadership of Colleen Shannon, Associate Program Director - Youth & Community Outreach. As word has spread among students and faculty, The Children's Room has become a well-respected and desirable intern site. Because of this, students interested in our Internship Program participate in a competitive application process. Tufts intern Christina Harvey Schools represented by this year's interns include Lesley University, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, and Wheelock College. In addition to our Program Interns, TCR will also be hosting an undergraduate Research Intern from Tufts University who will be focused on program evaluation. Program Interns assist in multiple peer support groups, our parent education series, and providing information and referrals to callers in need of grief support. Now Offering Weekly Intern Seminar For the first time, TCR interns will be participating in a weekly seminar, providing an opportunity for didactic as well as experiential learning. TCR's Program Staff will lead interns in covering topics such as child development and grief, bereavement theory, cultural diversity, religion and spirituality, and expressive arts. TCR is able to offer this additional educational component thanks to the direction and experience of our Clinical Director, Nancy Frumer Styron, Psy.D (click name to read bio). [...]
The death of Robin Williams on Monday was instantly followed by an outpouring of sadness and shock. From this week’s media coverage, it's clear that the stigma and misconceptions surrounding suicide are still very widespread. While we at TCR frequently talk about this issue and serve families impacted by suicide, there is often a painful silence associated with this topic until it affects a famous figure and reaches the national news. At The Children's Room, children, teens, and adults who have experienced a death in their family find a caring and understanding place where they can share their stories and connect with others. Nearly 10% of the families we serve have lost someone due to suicide. Almost 30,000 Americans die by suicide each year. The stigma and silence around suicide, depression, and other forms of mental illness can keep us from reaching out to ask for help or to offer support to those who need it. We’re grateful for the services Samaritans provides to our community, including the thoughts and resources they shared in yesterday’s post on WBUR. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness or thoughts of suicide, please reach out to Samaritans or other crisis resources that can help. The Children’s Room offers a variety of programs that might be helpful to families who have had a child or spouse die by suicide; including peer support groups, parent educational series, individual consultations, and referrals to other grief resources in the area. You can contact The Children’s Room at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-641-4741.
TCR Staff in attendance (left to right): Nancy Frumer Styron, Laurie Moskowitz-Corrois, Donna Smith Sharff, Colleen Shannon Last month, staff from The Children’s Room attended the 2014 National Alliance for Grieving Children Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia. Held annually, this conference brings together professionals from across the United States and Canada who are working in the field of grief support. The Children’s Room has been a regular contributor at this conference, and this year was no exception. Staff presented a session on mindfulness and expressive arts, entitled “Finding Your [Piece] Peace." Mindfulness is paying attention, with purpose and intention, to the present moment, without judgment. Integrating mindfulness and the expressive arts are unique aspects of TCR’s model of grief support. Nancy Frumer Styron, Clinical Director, and Laurie Moskowitz-Corrois, Associate Program Director of Family & Expressive Arts, led participants in the experiential learning session. In the activity pictured, Symposium participants were invited to personalize a “piece” with colorful markers and “make it their own.” Sharing their stories in small groups first, the large group then placed their pieces together to create a puzzle, visually representing their newly formed community. Mindful walking around the puzzle then offered the group an opportunity to view their “piece” from different perspectives. This simple yet meaningful activity illustrates our unique roles as a “piece of the whole” as we work together to build safe, supportive communities for grief work. Heartfelt feedback came from participants who remarked how helpful the workshop had been to them throughout the conference. In a following session, parents whose daughter was killed in the Newtown, CT shooting shared their story of coping after the tragedy. One participant shared with us afterward, “Having participated in your workshop [...]
Father’s Day is this Sunday, June 15th. Reminders seem to be everywhere – in the greeting card aisles at the store, ads that appear wherever you look, and friends and family making plans for the weekend ahead. This time of year can be hard for those who have lost their fathers. Give yourself permission to spend the day in whatever way feels best to you. For some, that might mean participating in family traditions or sharing special memory foods. You could also create new rituals and find new ways to remember and celebrate the life of the person who died. Sometimes the anticipation of the day can be harder than the day itself. You might find it helpful to plan ahead for how you want to spend the day. Everyone’s grief is unique, and there is no right or wrong way to observe holidays like Father’s Day. This is just one day of the year, but you carry the loss with you year-round. You don’t have to pressure yourself to make this day fit into some kind of mold of what it “should” be. You are the expert on your own grief.